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August 2011 | Adam Leach
Metropolitan Police had to scrap a £900,000 contract to supply 40,000 pullovers
following a complaint from a supplier regarding the tendering process.
is among the results of the CabinetOffice’s
“mystery shopper” complaints scheme,
which allows small businesses to complain about public procurement anonymously.
These grievances are then followed up by the Cabinet Office with the
original tender for London’s police service advertised a four-year deal, but
stipulated that the contract would be reviewed annually. A prospective supplier
complained that any change in the fixed price period or quantity of the
contract should result in the contract being withdrawn and started again, not
the complaint the police force agreed to restart the tender from the PQQ stage.
But ultimately, due to rises in wool prices, the procurement was scrapped.
all, there were 23 complaints made against public sector organisations; 11 of these
were rectified immediately, seven led to future changes and five were rejected.
The most common protests concerned PQQs followed by objections to contract sizes.
There was an even split between the number complaining about central government
and the wider public sector.
complaints heard since the scheme began three months ago included:
38 page PQQ issued by Durham constabulary was criticised as too complex. The force
has agreed to use simpler questionnaires in future tenders.
framework for consultancy by the Department for Transport that was said to bar
SMEs from entering the bidding process. The procurement was reviewed and broken
down into lots so that specialist vendors could compete.
complaint that local gardeners needed to apply and pay for an accreditation
before bidding for gardening deals. Housing association Place for People
explained this was in fact not mandatory.
Allott, crown representative for SMEs, said in a statement: “The government has
started to make big changes to support SMEs, but we need to know from SMEs on
the ground. We need to know how the changes are starting to bite, and where
they’re not, why not.”